Definition: an irregular layer of adipose and connective tissue, stroma, or membrane immediately deep to the skin and superficial to the deep fascia, usually consisting primarily of either just loose connective tissue [TA] (textus connectivus laxus [TA]), or a fatty layer [TA] (panniculus adiposus [TA]) that may also include a muscle layer [TA] (stratum musculosum [TA]), and/or a fibrous layer [TA] (stratum fibrosum [TA]}; it may occur as a membranous layer [TA] (stratum membranosum [TA]) only, being nearly devoid of fat (as in the auricles, eyelids, scrotum, and penis); it is penetrated by, and gains support from, skin ligaments [TA] (retinacula cutis [TA]) extending between the dermis and the deep fascia; cutaneous nerves and superficial vessels course within the subcutaneous tissue, with only their terminal branches passing to the skin; of the body's coverings, this layer varies most between sexes and in different nutritional states. Terminologia Anatomica [TA] has recommended that the terms “superficial fascia” and “deep fascia” not be used generically in an unqualified way because of variation in their meanings internationally. The recommended terms are “subcutaneous tissue [TA] (tela subcutanea)” for the former superficial fascia, and “muscular fascia” or (“visceral fasci viscera[is]”) in place of deep fascia.
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